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YOU & YOUR CAR

All of your headlight questions answered Add to ...

Many people believe it is okay to use fog lights as an additional set of headlights and plug in excessively bright bulbs to give them four headlights. They are everywhere and can be blinding. The big pickups are the worst offenders since they sit higher. Higher-end model cars also sport these brilliant and unnecessary set of four lights. Few drivers ever shut them off when requested by flicking my high beams at them in traffic. As far as I know, it is illegal to use them as driving lights, yet they are well used on our streets. – Rod

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So-called fog lights are, for the most part, styling gimmicks and useless.

A true “fog” light is no problem for oncoming motorists since it is designed to have a sharp cut-off less than a metre above the ground to prevent light from reflecting upwards into the fog.

Putting a brighter bulb in a poorly designed light merely makes matters worse.

Lights are obviously a concern across the country, as they have generated more feedback than anything else I have covered in the past several years.

Here is a compilation of those concerns and my comments:

The number of SUVs and light trucks on the road with lights that are much higher than cars, thus shining directly into the windscreen or rear window and mirror, even on low beam.

I’m not sure how to address this because SUVs are classified as light trucks, which they were originally when based on pickup platforms. The taller base for the lights automatically causes the problem. We may need legislation/regulations that addresses this issue because pickups and SUVs account for more than half of all new vehicles sold in the country? Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS) 108 (Lighting Systems and Retroreflective Devices) requirements set the minimum and maximum allowable height for the installation of headlamps as well as the maximum and minimum light intensities of headlamps.

The “bright blue” lights that can “blind” you.

This is an issue of enforcing regulations. Ninety-nine per cent of the offending lights are non-complying bright bulbs put in existing light units not designed to properly reflect that amount of light.

No garages ever check headlights. Ever.

Wrong. The safety inspection in some provinces requires that lights be checked not only for operation but aim.

All newer Chrysler products use DRLs 9daytime running lights) that are essentially high beams with slightly less power. They are annoyingly bright in sunlight, and worse any other time.

Not all. Many use regular low-beam headlights operating at reduced power. But many more use brighter parking lights for the DRL function

Many vehicles have headlights that have shaken loose and one of them is a wonky high beam.

I have never witnessed this. Perhaps what the reader is referring to is a poorly mounted aftermarket fog or driving light that is not necessarily loose but fastened to a part of the vehicle that vibrates at speed. The “high beam” reference is probably a poorly aimed version of the above.

Any HID or Euro-style sharply defined low beams become high beams when a couple of heavy people, or cargo, is in the back seat.

These lights, originating on European vehicles, are required by regulation to have a self-leveling function to prevent this. The issue is vehicles in which the lights have been altered with aftermarket bulbs.

All these problems are worse with trucks. Or vehicles towing a trailer.

No argument here. Adding weight to the rear of a vehicle will cause the front to rise – unless proper systems are in place to prevent this transfer. Unfortunately, the majority of casual campers or those who tow their toys do so with their everyday vehicle, one that was not equipped for towing. Back to the enforcement issue again.

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